A story of an Astronomical Event in the 1830s
Night The Stars Fell
Night The Stars Fell
“On the night of November 12-13, 1833, a tempest of falling stars broke over the earth. North America bore the brunt of its pelting. From the Gulf of Mexico to Halifax, until daylight with some difficulty put an end to the display, the sky was scored in every direction with shining tracks and illuminated with majestic fireballs. At Boston the frequency of meteors was estimated to be about half that of flakes of snow in an average snowstorm. Their numbers, while the first fury of their coming lasted, were quite beyond counting; but as it waned, a reckoning was attempted, from which it was computed, on the basis of that much diminished rate, that 240,000 must have been visible during the nine hours they continued to fall.” (1)
The 1833 event was witnessed by Kentuckians across the young state and the reaction was utter panic. The immediate reaction, by most residents, was that it was the beginning of the end of the world. This concept was related among the descriptions from the witnesses of the event and is also related in newspaper accounts evident in articles written from witness accounts.
Alfred Owens of Rockcastle County and an inhabitant of Mt Vernon in 1833 described the reaction at the time and gave a comment of his concerns during the shower;
“Just keep your eye on the main fugalment, if she starts, to hell in a handbag we go”. (Alfred Owens, 1833) Reports that the inhabitants who lived to tell of the event began weeping and moaning. Many fell upon their knees praying to be spared, or saved. (3)
In Hopkinsville, Christian County, in 1899 the meteor shower was being received with great interest. The event had been dated back to 902 AD and occurred every 33 years. The 902 shower was described as fire showers as thick as rain. The 1833 occurrence was just as great with another occurring in 1866 and again in 1899. (4)
In those early times being in an event as unknown and as scary as this was, one can only imagine what the actual reactions were by the terrified witnesses. We now know what causes these spectacular shows through research and analysis over the years and we now find them fascinating and entertaining.
The Leonid Comets cross their trail of debris and deposit them in Earth’s orbit as we travel around in our orbit. As we meet these dust trails they enter Earth’s atmosphere and light up the night sky, giving us these wonderful alien light shows.
Science and research by scientists, experts in astronomy and scientific professionals have answered this mystical event with answers that now have changed the view of the mysteries of the outer limits.
The most famous depiction of the 1833 event, actually produced in 1889 for the Adventist book Bible Readings for the Home Circle – the engraving is by Adolf Vollmy based upon an original painting by the Swiss artist Karl Jauslin, that is in turn based on a first-person account of the 1833 storm by a minister, Joseph Harvey Waggoner on his way from Florida to New Orleans. (2)
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(1) The Project Gutenberg eBook of A Popular History of Astronomy During the Nineteenth Century, by Agnes M. (Agnes Mary) Clerke; E-text prepared by Eric Hutton
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team,
Release Date: March 4, 2009 [eBook #28247]
(2) “Leonids”, Wikipedia, Internet, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonids,
(3) “Rockcastle First Things”, Mt Vernon Signal, Mt Vernon Ky, Jan. 4th 1907, Page 4, Library of Congress, Chronicling America, Internet, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1907-01-04/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1789&index=0&rows=20&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&words=First+ROCKCASTLE+Things&proxdistance=5&date2=1963&ortext=&proxtext=rockcastle+first+things&phrasetext=&andtext=&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1
(4) “Bright moonlight Will Somewhat Dim the View of This Three-Times-A-Century Spectacle”, Chronicling America, Library of Congress Digital Collections, Hopkinsville Kentuckian., November 14, 1899, Page 8, Internet, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069395/1899-11-14/ed-1/seq-8/#date1=1789&index=0&date2=1963&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&words=1833+falling+sky&proxdistance=50&state=Kentucky&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=1833%2C+sky+falling&phrasetext=&andtext=&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1